Cambodia - Siem Reap and Angkor Wat.
Only a weekend trip, but an amazing experience. Both ancient
and modern Cambodia give you pause to stop and think. Read
the journal entry also...
This is just the gate into the city itself. There were
remnant walls and a moat, with gates on each of the four sides of the city.
This temple was somewhat tumbled down, but the faces on
the towers were still clear.
Stones that had fallen were carefully stacked in the courtyard
prior to being reassembled. A huge 3D jigsaw.
One of the better preserved parts of the temple.
Characteristic of all of Angkor were the stone carvings.
There were hundreds of metres of them, several metres high. They usually
recorded historical events, or represented religious legends.
This temple was falling down earlier last century, and
the French partially disassembled it to secure the foundations. After the
Khmer Rouge (Pol Pot) took power all the Cambodians who had worked on the
project were slaughtered, and the records destroyed. Once the area became
safe again (only in the last ten years) the archiologists have returned
and started to piece together all the bits.
Below is one of many fields of carefully laid out stones.
The stones are numbered, but the records are gone. Bit by bit they are being
sorted out and reassembled.
One of the overgrown monasteries was too overwhelmed by
large trees to be restored properly. Instead the jungle was thinned, and
a whole new experience was opened up for tourists.
This building looks normal, but the right hand end has
collapsed for some reason. As the buildings are made without any mortar
the stones, when they fall, just look like kids' blocks.
One of the more spectactular trees that has grown on top
of the buildings. This tree is perhaps 400 years old, while the buildings
are over a thousand years old. We were impressed.
The roof of this building has collapsed fairly recently,
leaving the tree roots in mid air. From where Amanda is standing it looks
like a huge snake.
The original tree has been overwhelmed by a strangler fig,
killing it. The doorway has featured in a number of films, including a recent
Laura Croft movie.
Similarly this courtyard has also found fame in movies.
Remarkably I was able to find a moment when the crowds were all somewhere
else. This will be rarer and rarer over the next few years as the tourism
The grand temple of Angkor Wat is sensational. The moat
surrounding it is huge, with a substantial causeway leading to the outer
This impressive structure is merely an entry gate through
the outer walls. Sadly this building has been pockmarked with bullet holes
from the civil war.
Through the gate you get the first clear look at the main
temple with its 5 towers. Every aspect of its design is steeped in significance
relating to the ancient Hindu legends.
The outer cloisters are protecting more intricate carvings
that tell historic as well as religious stories. There are hundreds of metres
of freizes, all patiently carved into the rock. Again all this structure
is held together by gravity alone.
In the innner sanctum there are large courtyards, whose
purpose is not clear. They are not as deep as the ones in the outer buildings,
but still seem more like pools than parade grounds.
Getting up to the top of the central tower was seriously
scary. The steps are at a 60 degree angle, and quite intimidating to climb.
They are even worse to climb down!
From the central tower looking back along the causeway
to the outer walls.
After our thunderstorm: the outer cloisters. The roof is
made of massive stone blocks, not tiles.